Another day on the set of Milk and Honey. Today was crane day! Almost everything shot on this bright, brilliant and sweltering day was from the crane (technically actually a jib) which was mounted on a small black vehicle, a kinda of dune buggy.
I didn’t watch much on the monitor today but the crane shots I did see looked very impressive. The scene I saw most of had Jonno Davies (Spotless, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Rachel Bright (Eastenders) in, and involved smoke – I can say too much more as it’d be a spoiler but what I can say is that the scene’s dramatic potential was greatly ‘heightened’ by the two grips operating the jib.
I’m learning all kinds of little bits and pieces about filmmaking which I love. For instance, I had a vague idea what a grip was but Mike, one of the sound guys, explained it in greater detail, saying essentially ‘Grips’ deal with anything below the camera, anything holding the camera as it were: the tripod, dolly, slider or as in this case the jib. As a film fan I’ve always stayed in the cinema to watch the credits as most of the audience leave en masse. I do the same thing at home with TV films and documentaries. I love sitting in the cinema thinking about the film I’ve just seen but also picking up extra details about who did what on the film. For instance, over the years I started to notice the name ‘Ken Morse, Rostrum Camera’ on practically every other documentary I watched. He must be the most prolific Rostrum guy in the country (now you know the name you’ll see it everywhere if you look at the credits). Occasionally, of course if you stick around to the end, you also get the treat of an extra scene or outtakes etc. Then again, I also love being in a near empty cinema as the embers slowly fade, it has a very romantic feel I think.
Talking of all the finer details of film making with Mike and others during the day reminded of the so called Wilhelm Scream, (I’d forgotten the name but Mike jogged my memory) which again if you listen out for it you’ll hear it all the time. It’s kind of an industry secret and sound man’s in-joke and has been used in a least a couple of hundred movies, it dates from the early fifties but has been used in the likes of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Met Greg Tanner (The Legend of 5ive, Bullet Boy) for the second time today, a thoroughly nice chap and we discussed, of all things, the holocaust (I’m narrating an audiobook of the autobiography of Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz at present) and also as with other cast and crew, one’s favourite films. He mentioned ‘Twelve Angry Men’ which is one of my own long time favourites as well and whilst it’s not, as Greg said, the most cinematic of films it is pretty striking in its dialogue, and the cast, with Henry Fonda in the lead, are all brilliant.
Anyway, in one of the shots I was in today I got a bit flustered because I had to speed away in a car from the drive of the Manor. The only problem was that the car, an Audi, was an automatic, which I’ve never driven, so I was a bit at sea when I got in the driver’s seat.
The pressure is always on, on set, to get the shot done. So, first time round, I abdicated responsibility and got Steve (my fellow ‘heavy’) to drive off instead. I still had to do a drive away but from a standing start as it were, without running to the car, leaping in and speeding off. By the time the second shot was set up, Steve (and Coopes, the PA, and all round vehicle expert) had kindly given me a quiet run down of the differences between an automatic and a normal gearshift (i.e. no key to put in the ignition, no clutch, a little pull-up thing for the handbrake etc.) I’m sure with no pressure I’d have been fine but I was also worried about sticking the car in one of the topiaried hedges!
I felt a bit of a ‘nanna, at all this palaver, but at least provided a bit of comic relief if nothing else. James Welling, asked me at one point, tongue firmly in cheek, whether I could in fact drive! Put it like this, I don’t think my future lies in stunt. Nonetheless, in the end, I managed to do the shot in one, which was a relief. There was a mishap with the ‘key’ later on, which was a bit of a pain but at least no blood was spilt or cars pranged!
My shot with Mark Wingett and Steve, my fellow heavy, seemed to be over in a flash and I wasn’t entirely sure quite what I’d done in the shot (as I’d been flummoxed but all the car business!) but I look forward to seeing it on the big screen nevertheless and waiting, of course, to see my name on the credits!